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Common bacterial skin infections

Daniel L Stulberg, Marc A Penrod, Richard A Blatny
American Family Physician 2002 July 1, 66 (1): 119-24
12126026
Family physicians frequently treat bacterial skin infections in the office and in the hospital. Common skin infections include cellulitis, erysipelas, impetigo, folliculitis, and furuncles and carbuncles. Cellulitis is an infection of the dermis and subcutaneous tissue that has poorly demarcated borders and is usually caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species. Erysipelas is a superficial form of cellulitis with sharply demarcated borders and is caused almost exclusively by Streptococcus. Impetigo is also caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus and can lead to lifting of the stratum corneum resulting in the commonly seen bullous effect. Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. When the infection is bacterial rather than mechanical in nature, it is most commonly caused by Staphylococcus. If the infection of the follicle is deeper and involves more follicles, it moves into the furuncle and carbuncle stages and usually requires incision and drainage. All of these infections are typically diagnosed by clinical presentation and treated empirically. If antibiotics are required, one that is active against gram-positive organisms such as penicillinase-resistant penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides, or fluoroquinolones should be chosen. Children, patients who have diabetes, or patients who have immunodeficiencies are more susceptible to gram-negative infections and may require treatment with a second- or third-generation cephalosporin.

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